History, art and cultureTrip inspiration
Katie Sagal

Art Lover’s Guide to Rome

Italy has long been regarded as one of the artistic centers of the world. From its legacy of ancient art and architecture to its immense contributions to painting and sculpture during the Renaissance, Rome, in particular, is known for its artistic heritage. It’s also a city just bursting with artistic inspiration—from big-name attractions like Vatican Museums to the smaller galleries, museums, and random statuary dotting the city, you’ll find art everywhere in Rome. If you’re an art lover planning a trip to Rome, you’ve probably already got a few spots in mind. For those in search of more ideas to fill out their perfect Rome vacation, we’ve pulled together this art lover’s guide to Rome. From the best of classical architecture to the most significant Renaissance paintings and more, you’ll find a little bit of everything on this list!

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The Sistine Chapel

It’s hard to make an itinerary for art lovers without starting here. The Sistine Chapel is among the single most remarkable structures in the entire city, and the famed ceiling fresco by Michelangelo is beloved around the world. You’ll also see works of art by renowned Renaissance creators like Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio and Signorelli. A visit here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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The Vatican Museums

Boasting arguably the most extensive artistic holdings of any museum in the world, the Vatican Museums collections represent centuries of acquisitions by the Catholic Church spanning all manner of periods, styles, genres, and media. You’ll find everything from the famous Renaissance paintings that Rome is famous for to medieval tapestry, Ancient Egyptian funerary urns, and much more.

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Santa Maria del Popolo Basilica A remarkable church in the Piazza del Popolo, this fifteenth-century attraction features stunning works of art by legendary artists such as Caravaggio, Raphael, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Be sure to wander through all the nooks and crannies of this church, as you’ll find some of the most notable artwork tucked away. And don’t forget to look up...and up! The walls are decorated up to the ceiling and the ceiling is adorned as well.

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St. Peter’s Basilica

For the fans of art and architecture, St. Peter’s Basilica is a highly desirable attraction. You’ll find that the Michelangelo’s masterpiece is only one focal point of the remarkable collection of sculpture, paintings, and décor that cover the interior and exterior of the Basilica. For photography buffs, the stunning panoramic view from the top is worth a few pictures for the art wall at home.

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Galleria Borghese

One of the most significant art galleries in the entire city, Galleria Borghese is housed in the exquisitely designed Villa Borghese. Here you’ll find Bernini’s most famous sculptures—among them, The Rape of Proserpina, David and his slingshot, and Apollo and Daphne. There are also loads of paintings by the greats including Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael. Remember to book your tickets in advance as you are required to reserve a specific time slot for your visit.

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Galleria Doria Pamphili

This eighteenth-century structure is a masterpiece in its own right, representing some of the most beautiful and striking architecture in the city. The Galleria Doria Pamphili is filled with all the usual Renaissance masterpieces, as well as some remarkable paintings from the 1700s. This centrally-located museum is easy to work into a larger itinerary of artsy attractions and is often less busy than places like St. Peter’s Basilica. The most striking aspect of the apartments is the Gallery of Mirrors, a miniature replica of Versailles.

National Museums of Rome

Housed across four different buildings, the National Museums of Rome boast an eclectic collection of paintings, sculpture, and more that hail from all around Italy at multiple periods in time. The most famous piece for art lovers is the Boxer at Rest, a remarkably realistic bronze sculpture dating back to 300-50 BCE. The four buildings house a huge array of works, so be sure to set aside a few hours for a visit here.

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Basilica of Santa Maria

Located in the charming neighborhood of Trastevere, the Basilica of Santa Maria is known primarily as being one of the oldest surviving churches in Rome. This medieval church is worth a visit for its artistic offerings as well—the Basilica is home to unbelievably well-preserved twelfth-century Byzantine mosaics that depict the life of the Virgin Mary. Crafted by Pietro Cavallini, these mosaics are simply stunning.

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MAXXI

Formally the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, this fabulous new museum focuses on exclusively on contemporary art. The museum is split into two different collections featuring art and architecture, respectively, and the collecting focus is on twenty-first-century creators from Italy and around the world. It’s a nice change of pace from all the medieval architecture and Renaissance painting and is an excellent complement to a broader artistic itinerary.

Save on Admission to Artsy Rome Attractions

For art lovers heading to Italy, don’t forget to bring a Go Rome pass! You’ll save up to 47% on admission to top things to do in Rome including many of these great artistic attractions here. Spend less on admission so you can spend more at the gift store.

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